Saturday, March 5, 2011

Quotable Quotes: too cool for stare decisis

Griffith CJ is too cool for stare decisisDoodeward v Spence (1908) 6 CLR 406, 412
[Regarding some very old cases on the status of a dead body as property:] I do not, myself, accept the dogma of the verbal inerrancy of ancient text writers. Indeed, equally respectable authority, of equal antiquity, may be cited for establishing as a matter of law the reality of witchcraft. But in my opinion none of the authorities cited afford any assistance in the present case. We are, therefore, free to regard it as a case of first instance arising in the 20th century, and to decide it in accordance with general principles of law, which are usually in accord with reason and common sense.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Words Gone Wrong: Proscribed, prescribed, or something

I feel some sympathy for the people who made this mistake:
Successful applicants will have until last mail October 14, 2011 to claim their rebate. Rebates not claimed by that date in the proscribed manner will be forfeited.
(Emphasis mine.)

Proscribed, not prescribed. For those unfamiliar with the word, here's a definition of "proscribe", courtesy of the OED:

proscribe: verb [with object]
    forbid, especially by law:
        strikes remained proscribed in the armed forces
Therefore, if you replace proscribed with a synonym, such as forbidden, the last sentence reads:
Rebates not claimed by that date in the forbidden manner will be forfeited.

The word they're almost certainly looking for is prescribed. If we again substitute a synonym - say required - we get the much more sensible sentence:
Rebates not claimed by that date in the required manner will be forfeited.
As I said, it's an easy mistake to make. Don't be the sucker who makes it next.